The Adam Family

Bill Sharp's father, George, died six days before the 40th birthday of his wife,

Jessie Brown Adam

Jessie was born on 22nd December, 1882. Her father died when she was 11; her mother died when she was 16.
The youngest of six children, Jessie then went to live with her Uncle Joseph, at 2, Neilson Street, Paisley.


Joseph, as can be seen, was a formidable character. He and his wife were strict presbyterians, and went to church three times each Sunday. In order to discourage any trace of vanity in 16 year old Jessie, they smeared their mirrors with soap.

By 1911, like many other young women in Paisley, she was a threadmill worker. On 2nd March,aged 28, she married 25 year old George Sharp, who at that time was an iron turner, living at 8 Springbank Road, Paisley. The following year, Jessie had a still-born child, whom they named George. Two years later, my father-in-law, Bill, was born, the only child they were to have.

By the early 20s, they were living at Drumrye Road, Clydebank. Here is George with young Billy.


In 1922, they decided to emigrate to the USA. George's health had been deteriorating since 1920, having been injected by his friend, Dr Strang, with horse serum, thought to be a cure for the common cold.

On 9th October, 1922, they obtained this passport, which would take them to Connecticut, to be near George's aunts.


Three months later, nine days before Christmas, George died. Two days later, his Aunt Nellie and Uncle George wrote to his widow, Jessie, from Connecticut. This was not only a kind letter expressing their sympathy. With great generosity, they offered a home to Jessie and young Billy.

Jessie decided to remain in Scotland. She sold the Clydebank house, and bought a newsagent's shop with a little flat above it, near the railway station in Rutherglen, near Glasgow.


She worked here, with hardly a break, for the next thirty-five years. She never remarried. Her only leisure activity was a twice weekly visit to the cinema. Her husband had been gregarious and full of fun. Jessie was serious, rarely laughed, but never complained. Her life with George would have been very different. It is not known if she regretted turning down the invitation to cross the Atlantic.

Here she is outside her shop. It is 1936. Edward VIIth is about to abdicate.


Jessie died,aged 80, of cerebral haemorrage and myocardial degeneration.

Her father was

Andrew Adam

Andrew was born in January, 1838. He was a carpet weaver, but on Sundays he was a church precentor - it was he who led the singing. Below is a letter of recommendation, written in 1867 by the Teacher of Harmony and Counterpoint in the Artisans' Institute.


On 26th November, 1869, aged 31, in Middle Parish, Paisley, he married 23 year old Jessie Brown. They married at 35 New Sneddon, Jessie's home. Andrew lived at 5 Glen Street, Paisley.


Andrew had six brothers and two sisters. The eldest, William, died at the age of 19; the youngest, Thomas, died at the age of 17. His sister, Jean, died when she was 8.

Neither Andrew nor his wife Jessie reached the age of 60.

Andrew died at 5 Glen Street, where he had lived before and throughout his marriage, of cardiac disease - from which he had suffered for five months - and dropsy. He was 56. Andrew's father was

William Adam

William was born in January, 1801. He became a shawl weaver.As a young man, William must have been well off (he could afford to buy gold cuff links). As he grew older, like all shawl weavers of the period, his income must have declined alarmingly. From about 1810 to 1850, the change from hand loom weaving in the home to power loom weaving in factories was gradual but progressive. This was accompanied by a reduction in weavers' earnings of up to 70%.

In 1812, a handloom weaver could expect to earn in the region of 3 a week, but by 1825 this had been eroded to 52.5p, to creep up to a maximum of 90p by 1840.

Working conditions were harsh. In 1820, from April to September, weavers in Paisley worked from six in the morning until ten or eleven at night (depending on the availability of daylight) and also on Saturday mornings - a total of 86 to 90 hours a week.


The job was highly skilled. The density with which the weaver packed together his weft threads could not only affect the shawl's length but also distort the pattern.

The allowed deviation on an 11 foot long rectangular shawl was only 1/4 inch. It could take up to a fortnight to weave such a shawl, and when it was finished, it would be taken to the manufacturer's warehouse. There it would be inspected, and only if it was approved would the weaver be paid.

On 26th November, 1820, at the age of 19, William married Margaret Campbell, who was born on 28th April, 1801. They had nine children.

By 1861, they lived in a two-roomed house at 46 Broomlands Street, Paisley. Shortly afterwards, they moved to 4 Broomlands Street, where on 8th October, 1863, Margaret died of palsy from which she had suffered for some six years.


William moved to Glen Street and died there seven years later, at the age of 69, of sudden apoplexy. His gold cufflinks, with initials WA are worn by my son on special occasions.

His father was Robert Adam, a storekeeper, who married Jeanie Cochrane at Middle Church, Paisley, on 5th May, 1792.